The first reported American to die while fighting for the Islamic State, Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, was carrying his American passport along with $US800 when he went into battle in a recent clash between ISIS and other Syrian opposition groups.
McCain, who was born in Illinois, grew up in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. Graduating from Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, classmates remembered McCain as being affable and a “goofball.”
However, after graduating from high school, McCain seemed to become progressively more radicalized. His actions on social media, particularly Twitter, led to McCain being placed on a U.S. terror watch-list.
It’s funny to me how all these so call Muslim claim that they love Allah but always curse the one who try to implement his laws
— Duale Khalid (@iamthetooth) June 8, 2014
In the days leading up to McCain’s death, the majority of his Twitter presence was either replies to other ISIS members or retweets of ISIS talking points.
McCain’s Facebook profile painted a similar profile of a man who began as well-integrated into U.S. society while maintaining his own culture and religion. His Facebook likes included as benign topics as “The Chappelle Show” and ReverbNation, while also including more religious likes such as the Quran.
His profile pictures, likewise, showed a young man in 2010 that was not overly religious and was at least jokingly interested in the “gangster” lifestyle.
However, over the span of a few months, McCain began posting photos that could either be taken as glorifying violence, or a continuation of the “gangster” motif.
The most shocking example of McCain’s radicalization came in January of 2013, when he changed his profile picture to an image of Troy Kastigar. Kastigar and McCain had both graduated from Robbinsdale Cooper High School in 1999. In 2009, Kastigar traveled to Somalia in an effort to join an extremist group before ultimately being killed in the country’s ongoing civil war.
McCain may be the first American to have have died fighting for ISIS, but he is not the first American to have been killed fighting for jihadis in Syria. Back in May, an American from Florida became the first American suicide bomber in the conflict.
The State Department told CNN on Tuesdau that upwards of 100 Americans could now be fighting in Syria alongside a range of Syrian-based groups.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said that out of respect for McCain’s family, there will be no additional comments at this time.
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